Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An Arsenal Christmas Carol Part I


Once upon an exceedingly cold Christmas Eve, Ebeneezer Wenger sat in his counting house poring over his ledgers.  Skeletal, he sat, enveloped in his voluminous black jacket, squinting myopically at the jumble of figures that danced hypnotically betwixt and between the columns, entranced by the ballet of profit and loss.  Occasionally the intricate sums would refuse to balance and he would rise exasperated from his humble stool and stand with arms spread wide apart berating the 4th official who would pointedly ignore him or on occasion nod and point vaguely towards the pitch, an act which did nothing to lessen Wenger’s worsening humour, and served only to force him to sit back down in a belligerent huff.

In the cavernous fireplace a solitary lump of coal spat and hissed, forlornly throwing its meagre warmth into the room.  Ebeneezer blew on his hands and wiped away a bead of moisture from the end of his prodigious frozen nose.  The office would have been slightly the warmer if Wenger hadn’t insisted on keeping the door open to keep a beady eye on his young clerk, Walcott, who would intermittently rise from his desk, to vigourously stamp his feet and flap his arms in a vain attempt to keep warm.  An act that would prompt Ebeneezer to give out a derisory snort.  His perverse pleasure was however short-lived when the outer doors were flung open and his assistant, the bold Stephen, strode in with a confident and happy gait.

“Season’s greetings, “he declared “and a very Merry Christmas to you all”

“Bah” muttered Wenger “humbug!”

“Oh come now Sir,” said Stephen “Surely you cannot begrudge us even this harmless frivolity in these harsh times?”

“I would rather, Sir” declared Wenger sternly, “that you focussed your spirits on the efficacy’s of zonal marking, or persuading young Walcott to sign da ting, endeavours which I might remind you that I pay you for, rather than this feeble attempt at seasonal bonhomie.”

On hearing his name mentioned, Walcott seemed to shrink himself into his desk as if willing it to swallow him up.  Stephen however was apoplectic.

“Might I respectfully remind you Sir” he shouted, “that it was not me that signed Djourou or Squillacchi, I can only work with the tools that I’m provided”

“And might I remind you Sir, that when people speak of the legendary back four, they invariably speak of Anthony Adams and Martin Keown, you Sir, are an afterthought!”

At this, the bold Stephen spun on his heels and stormed from the office, indignant.  Wenger permitted himself a sly chuckle, and with added fervour returned to his books.  His happy concentration was short lived as there came a feeble tapping at his open door.  Exasperated, Wenger looked up to see a little orphan boy from the parish that he knew quite well.

At this juncture it is worth while describing this poor urchin for he truly represents every vestige of human misery that it is possible to imagine.  He was so thin that the light seemed to shine right through his frail body that was shrouded in rags.  His left leg was hideously twisted and deformed and he held himself upright on a pair of crude crutches that seemed to be welded to his emaciated frame.  Huge piercing eyes peered bulbously from his wasted face and it was into these eyes that Wenger now unwaveringly stared, as he addressed the child thus,

“Yes, what is it Tiny Abou Diaby?”

“B-b-begging your pardon Sir”, the waif stammered, “but I seem to have picked up a bit of an ankle knock and I may be out for up to three weeks!”

“Oh for fucks sake”, replied Wenger, “I have told you before Tiny Abou Diaby I am not running a charity here.  I expect you to come in tomorrow to clean the others boots, do not disappoint by saying you are otherwise engaged!”

“B-b-but ‘tis Christmas Sir!”

“Humbug!”Wenger roared, “Humbug, humbug, out out out!”

The rest of the day passed, uneventful, until at 9 O clock, Wenger was woken from a daydream by the sound of Walcott clearing his throat as he stood, supplicant in front of his desk.

“Well” Wenger said “Did you sign da ting?”

“No Sir!” Walcott replied, “But I pray you hear me out, I have been your clerk for several years now, and I feel I have executed my duties to the best of my abilities, I do not ask for much sir, except an extra sixpence a year and the opportunity to play up front on my own, I cannot see Sir why you would deny me this.”

“Walcott,” replied Wenger,”I have no doubt but that you are one of the best clerks I have ever had.  Your bookkeeping skills are excellent, you have very good penmanship and you will always get us a goal when we have the game won anyway. But sixpence, take thruppence and sign da ting!”

“I respectfully decline Sir,” replied Walcott testily, “I have had an offer from a firm in Liverpool, and while they may be a much smaller company with a very small accounts department and only in the Europa league, I feel they offer me what I want and for the sake of thruppence I shall take their offer and wish you a Happy Christmas and Goodbye!”

“Humbug!” said Wenger.

And so Ebeneezer Wenger locked up the Emirates and walked home through the freezing London night back to his empty house.  After a miserly supper of a tepid thin gruel he sat with a cup of warm punch in his tattered dressing gown and nodded off into a fitful doze.  Then, as the mantle clock struck midnight, he was roughly shaken from his slumber and on opening his eyes was confronted by the eerie spectacle of Herbert Chapman’s ghost.....

..To be continued.



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Arsene Blackadder and the False 9


The Arsenal dressing room, empty except for the assistant coach, Steve Baldrick, he is busy stuffing the players clothes into a wheeled hamper clearly marked “Kit Only”.  Enter the manager, Arsene Blackadder, who promptly kicks a chair across the room.

Baldrick
Good win then Mr B?

Blackadder
Yes Baldrick, if you’re talking about the “who can concede the stupidest goal competition” then we won hands down.  The football match however, we lost 5-0!

Baldrick
Oh! Bugger.

Blackadder
Bugger indeed, and now I have to go and face the esteemed gentlemen of the press, who know as much about football as Sir Alex Ferguson knows about magnanimity.

Baldrick
Well I don’t know much about Magnum Mini’s myself but I’ll face the press if you like?

Blackadder
The only press I’d let you face Baldrick, is my trouser press, and then if it was set to extra hot and you had your tackle out!

Baldrick
Suit yourself.

A commotion is heard outside; enter the club captain, George Hill-Wood.

George
With a hip and a hip and a bally hooorah!  I say boss we soon showed them what’s what eh?

Blackadder
We lost George.

George
Only just boss, only just.  If the Umpire hadn’t ruled out my try when I went over in the corner, we’d have kicked the conversion and then sucks to you, you Chelsea upstarts!

Blackadder
We were playing Fulham, George.

George
Nevertheless our supporters were magnificent today.  Why as I was leaving the pitch one shouted “Hill-Wood you are an Arsenal legend”

Blackadder
Yes George, I think you’ll find he shouted “Hill-Wood you are an arse, leg end”

George
Oh I see.  Anyway what did you think of the performance overall?

Blackadder
Well let’s see.  Our tactics were as incisive and intelligent as a piece of Robbie Savage punditry.  And our overall strategy was as well thought out as the marketing strategy of a man selling “Tottenham Champions of England” t-shirts!  Other than that we weren’t too bad.

George
Well hurrah!  Let’s all upstairs and tell Uncle!

Blackadder
What, are you mad?  The last person I want to see now is the Chairman.

George
He wants to see us straight away, I expect he wants to congratulate us on today’s performance.

Blackadder
I’m dead!

The Chairman’s cavernous office.  The trio are greeted by the CEO Ivan Darling, who has a self satisfied smirk on his face!

Blackadder
Problem Darling?

Darling
Smile all you want Blackadder, but Lord Hill-Wood saw that travesty today, your days are numbered!

Blackadder
Given that Lord Hill-Wood is as close to football as the ball is to the pitch at the Britannia Stadium during a Stoke City attack, I feel pretty safe.

Darling
We’ll see, Blackadder.  We’ll see.

Arsenal’s esteemed Chairman Lord Peter Hill-Wood enters and takes his seat behind his enormous desk.

George
What ho Uncle!  Good innings by the chaps today, eh?

Lord PHW
Shut up you feeble minded arse.  Blackadder what was the meaning of that absolute pile of shit out there today?  Explain yourself man, why was Van Persie not brought on?

Blackadder
Well two reasons my Lord; he has a slight ankle knock although it’s nothing serious...

Lord PHW
I don’t see how that would prevent him doing a job against Fulham, the other reason?

Blackadder
We sold him to Man Utd.

Lord PHW
God’s bollocks!! Are you mad Sir?  What blithering idiot sanctioned that?

Blackadder
Over to you Darling.

Darling
But...but....my Lord, when he wanted more money you told me to flog him to Man U!

Lord PHW
I said “You man, flog him!” you arse, give him a good thrashing, and beat some sense into him, honestly Darling!  Come on Blackadder, what options have we left attacking wise?

Blackadder
Well attacking wise, my Lord, we have a small, fat, wheezy Russian, a mad Moroccan pipe smoker and a North Korean attacker so ineffectual at attacking that he was turned down by the North Korean army, specifically their suicide squad.

Lord PHW
Damn it Blackadder we have very little money to spend on new players, you know how obsessed the American is at cutting down costs.  The annual Christmas dinner is coming up we need to get rid of more of the fringe players.  Cut the wage bill.

Blackadder
Actually my Lord, the PFA have been protesting about our treatment of the lesser squad members.

Lord PHW
Specifically?

Blackadder
Specifically, us eating them at the annual Christmas dinner.

Lord PHW
Damn their eyes the interfering busybodies, I’ll never forget the problems they gave me over that Samir Nasri situation.

Blackadder
Well you were riding him out to hounds my Lord.

Lord PHW
Yes damn it, well think of something what do I pay you for?

George
I say, Uncle why don’t we employ a false 9, they’re all the rage on the Continent I believe.

Lord PHW
Tell me more George, what’s a false 9?

George
Well, the chap at silly mid-off slips behind the scrum half and then, no, hang on that’s not it.

Blackadder
Might I interject my Lord, but a false 9 requires a player of extraordinary skill with an acute positional sense...

Baldrick
Might I eject my Lord, for I have a cunning plan!

Blackadder
If you will, my Lord, consider that Baldrick’s last cunning plan was “let’s sign that Squillachi bloke he looks like he can defend a bit”, I’d take it with a pinch of salt if I were you.

Lord PHW
Damn it don’t be so negative Blackadder, let’s hear what the little maggot has to say, come on out with it man.

Baldrick
Well, when we’re going forward we commit all our players to the attack, and then just when the attack looks like it’s breaking down...

Blackadder
Don’t listen my Lord I beseech you..

Baldrick
We send up our number 6 and just at the last second, he jumps up and stands on his head.  Thus making his number 6 into a false 9!!

Lord PHW
Excellent idea, you see Blackadder this is exactly the forward thinking we need at this club.  Come on Darling we’re leaving!

Lord Hill-Wood and Ivan Darling exit, leaving Blackadder in a contemplative and morose state...

Blackadder
How has it all come to this?  I’ve been in this game too long now, I cut my managerial teeth at Monaco where I developed young players who the second they worked out how to kick a ball, sodded off elsewhere for more cash.  I suffered the ignominy of having to move to Japan to manage a team sponsored by some bloke who’d invented a digital kettle, and then against all the odds I landed this job.  I built Arsenal into a successful side that were the envy of Europe, brought loads of trophies and moved to a brand new state of the art stadium.  Alas I can do no more.  The club must come first.  So I’m going to announce....that Diaby is a new signing and give myself a flipping huge pay rise!

George
Hooorah!



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Captain - Robin Van Persie's Last Programme Notes!


Credit for this piece (or blame if you don’t like it) has to go to Andrew Allen whose tweet from yesterday gave me the idea.  Of course should Robin stay and sign a new contract I will be suitably chastened and contrite.


Pre-season Has Left Me Fit And Ready To Go!

Cologne last week was terrific, not just the match itself but the training sessions, especially after my slightly disappointing summer.  Steve Bould certainly put us through the wringer and there were a lot of sore, tired bodies out there.  Our new signings are worthy additions to the club and I feel that they are going to contribute to us having a fantastic season.  I’ve been particularly impressed with Lukas Podolski and I can tell you that when he hits a ball it stays hit, what a shot the man has.  I look forward to both of us getting a hatful of goals in the coming months, in fact I can see us both fighting over who gets to take the penalties!
The Boss has outlined our targets for the coming season and we will be competing 100% for every competition, but the Premiership will of course be our top priority, still some silverware for our efforts will be very welcome.
Today’s opponents, Sunderland, are a very good side who defend very well and we will not be taking them for granted.  As we saw last season their strengths are ........hang on a sec, that’s the phone, I have to get this...

Focus Will Be All Important In These Early Games.

Woo hoo!....Yes ...yes!    fucking yes!  Get in there!....Sorry that was my, er, dry cleaners, my favourite silk shirt is cleaned and ready to pick up.  It’s a Ralph Laurent one that I bought this summer in Turin, when I was er sightseeing there.  Yes magnificent Turin with its lovely church and that other big yoke, you know what I mean.  Anyway I do love that shirt, in fact I’ve even been known to kiss the little polo symbol on it, I love it that much.  However, should I see an equally nice shirt, say by Lacoste, that doesn’t mean that I can’t buy that one as well does it?  It doesn’t make me a bad person does it?  It’s just a shirt after all, yes a shirt, get a grip people.  Anyway what was I talking about?  Oh yes Sunderland...

3 Points Are The Priority.

Sunderland is of course in the North of England.  Is the weather up there as bad as people make out?  I mean these things are always exaggerated aren’t they?  It’s grim up north!!  Ha ha, oh God, is it grim?  I mean I’m just thinking about those people that have to live there; their heating bills must be outrageous.  Still they wouldn’t be, like tens of thousand pounds a week would they?  You’d have the problem of burst pipes in winter as well to contend with.  You would have to know a good plumber, I must remember that.  I mean in case I’m ever asked for my opinion on the subject.

It’s Important To Get Off To A Good Start.

Autumn is a crucial time in the Premiership.  It’s when you start to build up a momentum to carry you through the season.  Falling behind in this critical time means you are playing catch-up, and that becomes harder and harder every year.  And more boring.
I can’t think of autumn without thinking of leaves, yes leaves.  Funny word that, leaves.  And leaves are funny things aren’t they?  They wither and die and are replaced.  The trees aren’t bitter about the leaves, the leaves they’ve lost, they don’t go on twitter and abuse their leaves, no they know that it’s the natural order of things.  Trees move on, unlike people.  God what am I waffling on about, hee hee!  Must be the champagne talking, not that I’m drinking champagne, why should I be?  I meant Lucozade.

The Back Four Has Never Looked So Solid.

Credit for this of course must go to the excellent work being done by Steve Bould.  He has imparted a solidity and confidence to the whole defensive unit and.....OMG!!  I’m hearing that Alex Song is going to Barcelona.  I can’t believe this, honestly I’m in shock.  This is not going to go down well with you fans.  You should really hate him for this.  I mean really, really hate him.  In fact here’s his home phone number (the club does not give out such information – Ed).  This is a stab in the back to those of you who have supported him through the years, remember this treachery, and Nasri and Cesc.  Traitors they are to a man, remember this, focus needs to be on them now, on them.
Anyway, onwards and upwards, forward is the direction, the only direction, here’s to 3 points against Everton and getting off to a winning start.
Remember that I am and always will be a Goner!!



Saturday, July 7, 2012

Peter Hill-Woods Open Letter to R+W


Dear Communists,

                                I have read, with great interest, your open letter which you propitiously released to the Penny Dreadful’s, and I feel I must reply, while at the same time informing our loyal supporters, exactly what kind of treacherous, underhand snakes in the grass you and your ilk really are.

Before replying to the points you raise, may I first refer to your unfortunate choice of the name Red and White Holdings.  Do you honestly think that we cannot see through the allusion of an unholy alliance between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks that your choice of name implies?  You remember I trust the first time we met at my club in Leicester Square where Bunty introduced us all and I covered your unfortunate gaffe at ordering “sherry for everyone” at 11 am?  I stood up for you then and gave you a chance which unfortunately is to my eternal regret.  I do however apologize for my behaviour later that night when I suggested you take your filthy roubles to the scum down the road; I was unfortunately, in my cups!

You refer in your letter to terms such as “non-dividend equity”, now these terms may be fine for your late night meetings with Comrade Stalin, but this is England sir, and we will ne’er broach such atheism in this church.  We have constructed a fine theatre for the enjoyment of the beautiful game and I assure you that when our noble and loyal supporters raise a glass of punch and cheerily shout “Huzzah” it foremost gladdens the heart and we spare nary a thought for filthy lucre.  It is you sir that are obsessed by the rattle of a few kopecks in your vulgar tin.

On the question of our shares that were acquired by the American, I would presume that any etiquette, regardless of nationality, would forbid public discussion of money.  That kind of talk is for accountant’s sir, and not for gentlemen!  I will only comment that my earnings will barely cover my expenses for Glorious Goodwood!

Regarding the team and your, frankly scurrilous, allegation of the boards lack of investment, I would point out to you sir that we have already spent in excess of 20,000 guineas on new players to strengthen the squad, and we will have the likes of young Wilshire, Ted Drake and that Irish chappie Stapleham coming back from injury.  The loss of van Nistleroy will hurt us sore and I quite liked that young man, he’s Dutch you know, but no player is bigger than the club.  If he chooses to play for one of those dreadful noveau riche clubs like Doncaster Rovers then frankly good riddance I say.

Lastly I would beg you to think of our young supporters, back from hols to Eton and Rugby, spare them derision in the tuck shop.  Let’s get behind our brave boys and our great manager Mr Graham.  Let this be a season to remember for the boys in red and white.  Let us once again finish higher than the filth.

Sincerely

Peter Hill-Wood Chairman

Ps I get the Red + White name now.  Sorry!



Monday, May 28, 2012

Paradise Lost?


“Did you play in the Garden of Eden?
Were the goalkeepers gloves to you tossed?
Because it seems to me, you’re the reason,
You’re the reason why Paradise Lost!”
                             - Paradise Lost – Half Man Half Biscuit

It seems like it was only yesterday that me and my mates were sat in the pub watching the Emirates Cup, bemoaning the lack of investment and arguing about Samir Nasri, where has the bloody season gone?  I suppose I’m getting to that age now that you start to mislay things, like keys, pens and football seasons, or is it the brain utilising some sort of coping mechanism.  You don’t really need those keys, someone will let you in.  Is what you need to write really that important?  Oh and by the way, Arsenal are still shit!

I first started to suspect things were going to go wrong when the 2011/12 kit was revealed.  There beneath the crest was boldly emblazoned the word “Forward”, what were we thinking?  Pedants will no doubt point out that we did go forward, we did move up from fourth to third, but is that the sum total of our ambition these days?  Are we destined to go from nondescript season to season hopefully catching a few crumbs from the top table?  No doubt people will point to the disastrous start to the season we had but, unless I’m missing something, the start of the season is still part of the season.  The season doesn’t wait for you start playing well before it starts!  I know, I know we had the summer of discontent and uncertainty, but surely there are people at the club employed to plan for this, (Gazidis yes I’m looking at you), and yes we had injuries, but all clubs have injuries its part of the game.  Its sport, weird shit happens!  We missed, in my opinion, our best player (Jack Wilshere) for a whole season, we played without any full backs, but on the other hand we got a whole season out of Robin van Persie and look what he achieved.  Its sport weird shit happens!

Depressingly we go into next season in a worse position than we went into last season, unless three crucial things happen.  Investment, divestment and better luck with injuries.  Let’s examine these one by one.

The current squad need significant reinforcement, not to mount a title challenge, but to maintain a top four finish next season.  The likes of Spurs, Liverpool etc will all strengthen their squads and we will have to do the same simply to maintain the status quo, the addition of Podolski is indeed welcome, but we would need the likes of M’Villa, Llorente etc just to keep 3rd place, and that includes keeping van Persie!  Effectively we need another Sczezsny, another Vermaelen, another Wilshere and another RVP, a whole new secondary spine of the team equally as good as the primary one and even that wouldn’t guarantee us the Premiership!!  We’ve seen City spend close to a billion pounds to win it just once and they will have to spend again just to defend their crown, we are not in their league!

Arsenal have the 4th highest wage bill in the league and yet we have a very rigid wage structure, how can this be?  Put simply we have too many passengers, our squad is too big, we have too many players out on loan, now I know we are investing for the future but there can be no room for sentiment here, we desperately need a cull, even if it costs us money in the short term.  There can be no more room for sentiment.  Underperforming and injury prone players need to be got rid of, sharpish!  We fans know who they are so I presume the club know as well.  Pay the higher achievers more and if you can’t cut it then ‘bye!!

Football today, is a 14 man game.  Your substitutes need to be impact players who can change a game from the moment they step on to the pitch.  Ideally you would need a sub of equal ability to cover every position but that is just too damn expensive.  Successive seasons have seen us have crucial players out injured with inadequate cover, now some of these injuries have been down to sheer bad luck, but the prolonged recovery times surely point to an arcane and traditionalist methodology, maybe we should be looking at Cryotechnology and other radical treatments that other sports like rugby have embraced.  That being said referees need to give the players more protection as well, how many times this season have we seen the opposition stop our counter attacks by kicking our players with impunity.  Oh yeah we also need luck!

In my opinion we need all three of the above to be implemented to have any hope of success next season.  Sadly we’ll fulfil one maybe two but definitely not all three, so realistically the best we can hope for is a good cup run, the Champions League or the FA Cup maybe, certainly not that other fecky competition, unless our kids win it for us!!

Football is immediate, and therefore it’s very hard to judge a whole season of it, you have to break it down into game size chunks to get a proper context.  So on that note thank you Arsenal for Chelsea away, Spurs at home, the second Milan game, the return of the King, van Persies volleys, Song’s assists, Arteta, Sagna’s header and the sheer Goonerness of our keeper.  I can’t wait for next season when we’ll win the treble!!



Friday, May 25, 2012

Anna Lvova






As I explained in the last interview with Chris from Germany, I find it particularly fascinating to find out how people from other countries ended up supporting the Arsenal.  Those of you that follow Anna on Twitter already know what a passionate and knowledgeable Gooner she is, but for those of you who don’t this paragraph from her piece for the Arsenal Collective (referenced in the first question) explains it better than I ever could;

So here I am. Living thousands of kilometres away from North London. Putting on my red and white t-shirts on for matchdays. Singing Arsenal chants in front of my television. Gaining grey hair, fraying my nerves, going insane, jumping for joy, laughing, crying. Not many things in my life give me that rollercoaster of emotions! And you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for anything


Why Arsenal?


I was on a plane going to Moscow from my honeymoon in summer 2000 and I bought a sports magazine to kill some time during my flight. There was a huge Arsene Wenger interview in it, which blew me away. The way he spoke about football in general and Arsenal in particular, it really moved me. I got home and made sure I sit down and watch an Arsenal game just to see what this team he talked about is. It was love at first sight.

Earliest Arsenal memory?

Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final of 1995 against Sampdoria. I was a student in Malta and I lived around the corner from a pub. The landlord was a huge Arsenal fan. The night of that game he made me pour myself my own drinks behind the bar and get my own cigarettes simply because he couldn’t get his eyes off the TV screen. I actually stayed on to watch the match with him and his pals even though I wasn’t planning to.

First game?

See the above question.

Favourite player (all time)?

Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires

Favourite player (current)?

Jack Wilshere

Highest point?

Invincibles season

Lowest point?

CL final 2006. Never rewatched that match ever again, And probably never will

Sign any 3 players?

M’Vila, Kagawa and Akinfeev

Sack any 3 players?

Almunia, Squilaci and Mannone

Highbury or the Emirates?

Emirates


You can follow Anna on Twitter @MadRuskiGunner.

Also can I just remind you that Andrew Allen is looking for your contributions to the Memory Bank on the Arsenal Collective, so if you’ve got a story to tell, avail of this chance to tell it to the Gooner community.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chris from German Gunners!





Since I began this project the one aspect I’ve found fascinating is the varying reasons people began supporting the Arsenal in the first place.  Aside from the obvious reasons of geography and family tradition, there is the more tenuous sense of an identification with an ethos, an idea, whether it’s style of play or a sense of what the club represents, it’s an intangible thing that’s implied in the various answers.  It’s as fleeting as an idea, but what a powerful idea it is!  I find it oddly comforting to think that after a miserable away defeat to Stoke someone in a far off place is acutely sharing my pain!

Flying the Arsenal flag in Germany are the German Gunners and Chris, main man behind their 
excellent blog, joins me in the hot seat today


Why Arsenal?

That's a tough one right at the start. It's hard to explain why you support a team as passionately as you do I guess. As I'm from Germany and didn't grow up in the area it must be something different that attracts me. Of course the attacking football is always an argument but not the main one for me. Most important for me is that Arsenal is a club with principles. They just do it in style with a friendly and local touch to it while being a worldwide operating club. Know where your roots are and act based on them. I guess that's what fascinates me most.

Earliest Arsenal memory?

The earliest must be a Uefa cup group stage match against Gladbach in 1996. I saw it on TV at my grandma’s house. But the decisive moment, even if not the earliest was Arsenals match against Borussia Dortmund in the 2002/03 Champions League season. I'd been to the Westfalenstadion a lot that time as Dortmund is my local club and I still live nearby. Once I saw them play my passion for Arsenal hasn't stopped.

First game?

First game was the one in Dortmund. My first match in Highbury came slightly afterwards against Bolton in the unbeaten season. A 2:1 win with me sitting 6th row behind the goal. My dad and I bought the tickets from a sport event agency online and weren't sure if we would get the tickets until we checked in, to our London hotel, and the concierge gave us our tickets. Never been so nervous in my life before. That was also my first visit to London, with many more to follow.

Favourite player (all time)?

Must be Robert Pires with no doubt. He was doing the magic when I fell in love with Arsenal and he's an Arsenal legend for me. The way he ran towards goal flicked the ball into the lower corner, unbelievable.

Favourite player (current)?

Jack Wilshere. He's Arsenal through and through. He feels the same way as we fans do about the club. He won't give up on Arsenal no matter what. Besides he's a quality player.

Highest point?

First match in Highbury against Bolton. It’s not about the result or the opponent. It's about the memories I have when I look back. To be at the clubs ground for the first time, to absorb the atmosphere in and outside the stadium will be the moment I will never forget in my life, and always remember when I step out of Arsenal station.

Lowest point?

Champions League final loss. Still devastated.

Sign any three players?

Götze, Messi, Sven Bender. All midfielders but I just admire those three. Götze is the next big thing in Germany and Europe I think. Would be great to have him in our team. He can cut a defence into pieces in a heartbeat. Messi is obvious. Bender probably isn't on every ones shopping cart. He's Dortmund’s defensive soul in midfield. High work rate with a killer pass if needed.
 
Sack any three players?

Almunia,Squillaci,Denilson. All three to be sacked for real this summer I guess. 

Highbury or the Emirates?

Wow that's hard to decide. Highbury was special as I have been to my first Arsenal home match there. It also had the certain feeling you expect from a football ground in England. Close to the pitch, located right in the neigbours backyard and stuff. But I must say I do like the Emirates a lot. It's getting Arsenalised more and more and it's a really beautiful stadium. As most of the games I have been to have been at the Emirates I'll go with the Emirates, although it's a tough one!



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You can follow Chris on Twitter @Germangunners and don’t forget to check out the blog German Gunners.